Paper prototyping is a technique in usability where the interface is simulated using paper. This embedded video, in Russian, looks like a giant, high-fidelity paper prototyping session.
Nielsen’s most recent Alertbox on web-application usability…some good tips updated for ubiquitous web apps,
Application usability is enhanced when users know how to operate the UI and it guides them through the workflow. Violating common guidelines prevents both.
Satellite navigation devices have been blamed for causing millions of pounds worth of damage to railway crossings and bridges. Network Rail claims 2,000 bridges are hit every year by lorries that have been directed along inappropriate roads for their size.
I guess it would be cost-prohibitive to put this bridge information into the GPS databases…
Many Americans are jumping into the fast, mobile, participatory Web without considering all the implications. If nothing really bad has happened to someone, they tend neither to worry about their personal information nor to take steps to limit the amount of information that can be found about them online. This finding dovetails with our previous work related to spyware — software that covertly tracks a user as they navigate the net. Internet users who said they had not encountered spyware were less likely to view it as a serious threat and more likely to say it’s just part of life online.
U.S. news agencies are reporting on the California ballots that ‘may have lost Obama the California primary.’ The argument is that he would have pulled in the ‘declined to state’ voters (those who have not registered as either Democrat or Republican), but that because of a human factors error with the ballot, those votes may not have been counted. (The inference is that these voters would have supported Obama.)
Succinctly, declined-to-state voters have to ask for a Democratic ballot. Then they must fill in a bubble at the top of the ballot, saying that they wanted to vote in the Democratic primary. Obviously, many users might not do this, as it seems a redudant code… the ballot they are holding is the Democratic ballot, so why indicate again that it was the ballot they requested? If you look at the ballot below, it says at the top to “select party in the box below.” Of course, there is only one option, which makes it not much of a selection.
It’s likely this area of the ballot was inserted to produce some interesting statistical information (rather than a pure answer of who received the most votes.) If only declined-to-state voters filled the bubble, you could get a count of how many of those voters came out to vote compared to other years, how many chose to vote Democrat, and which candidate received most of their support. While interesting (I would like to know all of those things) it complicates the purpose of primary voting: to count the number of Americans who support a particular candidate.
Why I am not a conspiracy theorist: People with the best of intentions make critical human factors design errors, even errors that cost people their lives (see “Set Phasers on Stun.”) Sometimes, these errors are created by specific good intentions, as in the Florida hanging-chad fiasco.
The reason the choices were staggard on each side of the ballot was to increase the font size, supposedly making the ballot more clear for older voters. This perceptual aid was trumped by the resulting cognitive confusions. These ballot designs may suffer from a lack of user testing, but not from an intentional ploy to keep declined-to-state voters from being counted or to get Pat Buchanan more votes.
Thus, let’s tackle the problem rather than using ‘double bubble’ for a slow news day. Why don’t we demand all ballots and voting machines be user tested? (Security is another issue, for another blog.) If you have an idea of what action to take, please comment so a future post may provide detailed instructions.